Boeing 737 Max 9 flights cleared for takeoff after grounding due to panel blowing off

Boeing 737 Max 9 jets were cleared for takeoff again Friday, less than three weeks after a door plug suddenly blew off an Alaska Airlines flight in mid-air.

Federal regulators approved an inspection process for the door plugs on the grounded 737 Max 9 jets.


FAA approves inspection process that could clear the way for grounded Boeing planes to fly again

Federal officials are clearing the ways for grounded Boeing planes to resume flying. Meanwhile, Congress is getting involved in examining safety at Boeing after a panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliner in midflight this month.

Alaska Airlines is the first to return the plane to service, but Boeing still faces a lot of scrutiny, not with just the Max 9, but its entire fleet of newer planes.

United Airlines will starting using the planes again on Sunday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the jets could return to the skies once airlines finish inspections of the door plug.

"I think return to service at this point is appropriate after these inspections," said Ron McCallum, who is a pilot and aviation attorney.

The NTSB is still investigating what caused the door plug to blow off the plane.

Boeing's CEO, Dave Calhoun, was on Capitol Hill this week and spoke to lawmakers behind closed doors.

"We believe in our airplanes. We field safe airplanes, our people do. We have confidence in the safety of our airplanes and that's what this is all about, and we fully understand the gravity," Calhoun said.

Calhoun is trying to reassure lawmakers and the traveling public that Boeing’s jets are safe.

An apparent whistleblower report calls Boeing’s production system a "rambling, shambling disaster waiting to happen." 

"We don't have a future in aviation unless the American public, people who fly, know that they are safe and they feel comfortable getting in an airplane," said Jerry Moran (R-Kansas).

McCallum agrees with that lawmaker's statement.

"What we know what's come out, recently, in the last few days even, is that Boeing has quality assurance or quality control problems that are persistent throughout its manufacturing process," he said.

The report also alleges the flawed plane was delivered by Boeing to Alaska Airlines with all four bolts meant to hold the door in place missing.

In a statement, Alaska Airline's CEO said: "I'm more than frustrated and disappointed...I am angry."

United Airlines said it may back out of orders for the not yet certified Max 10.

McCallum said the public's trust in Boeing continues to erode.

"I think Boeing is going to suffer tremendously in the future, in the next several months and the balance of the year as a result of these inspections, these findings and ultimately, quality control issues within the plant," McCallum said.

Inspectors with the NTSB are at the Boeing manufacturing plant in Washington continuing their investigation.

They are no doubt taking a very close look at the assembly line of all their new jets.